A Statement from The BHRC: Imposition of Martial Law, and the use of Foreign Troops in Bahrain

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The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales expresses deep concern regarding the imposition of martial law, and the use of foreign troops in Bahrain. In particular, the Committee abhors the use of violence against protestors which has reportedly left several dead and hundreds injured, and the arrest of opposition leaders.

The Bar Human Rights Committee has been engaged in missions to Bahrain over many years and has been vocal in its support for reforms which have seen the Kingdom establish written laws which uphold the rights of citizens.  But equally the Committee has been forthright in highlighting alleged human rights violations. In particular, the Committee has been concerned at allegations of mistreatment of political detainees and fair trial guarantees, and the misuse of ‘anti-terror’ laws against opposition groups.

Mark Muller QC states that “the Bar Human Rights Committee is extremely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Bahrain and the seemingly apparent excessive use of force by state agents against unarmed peaceful protesters.

In 2006, Bahrain was rightly applauded for ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the government to respect the basic fundamental human rights set out in the Covenant.

Bahrain’s declaration of martial law under Article 36b of the Constitution does not override its obligation to respect fundamental human rights under international law. Although the Covenant permits a state to impose restrictions on certain rights during a publicly declared state of emergency that ‘threaten the life of the nation’, those restrictions must be in ‘limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.’ We remind the Bahrain government that a state of emergency should not be used as a pretext to simply deal with peaceful protest and the expression of political opinion or to arbitrarily deprive peaceful protester of their liberty and their right to a fair trial, including their right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before an impartial tribunal. We also remind the government that the right to life and the right not to be tortured or ill-treated must be adhered to even in a state of emergency.

In its work in Bahrain the Committee has established close links with members of the Government, civil society and human rights groups, lawyers, and members of the business community.

The Committee urges all sides to engage in dialogue and to adhere to the rule of law and respect human rights. Dialogue can only be achieved if the violence is ended and the rights of the people are upheld; particularly the right to assemble and protest.”

17th March 2011



The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales. It is an independent body concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial.

For more information please contact BHRC in London, UK, on email: [email protected]


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